The UK is one of 67 countries to sign up to a new World Trade Organisation (WTO) pact to cut red tape around licensing and qualifications for services firms.
The deal – signed by countries like the UK, US, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, France and Canada – aims to increase transparency and efficiency for services firms, particularly those in the financial and transport sectors.
Yesterday’s deal was the first successful WTO negotiation in two years and the participants make up 90 per cent of world services trade.
Miles Celic, chief executive officer at TheCityUK business group, said: “It is an essential step towards removing the types of trade barriers most often experienced by services exporters.”
International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the deal could cut global trade costs by £113bn per year, however pundits are sceptical.
Sam Lowe, trade expert at management consultant Flint Global, said that the deal would make no difference to the practices of firms in the UK or US.
However, he said that some of the commitments could ensure greater transparency and efficiency in countries like Thailand and Russia.
“It’s really great it’s been done, but the deal is largely countries committing to things they already do,” Lowe said.
“Things like publishing the procedures for how to apply for licences and getting back to people in good time.”